Spencer Stanley.

Spencer Stanley has had a life-long affection for barbecue of all kinds, and has taken the time to sample barbecue from every region of the country (and some foreign countries).  From Texas to Memphis, he believes they all have their unique flavors,   but feels that eastern North Carolina whole hog barbecue is superior to all.

Certified by the NC Pork Council as a judge for almost 8 years, Spencer has judged numerous contests, including ECU’s Pigskin Pigout, the NC State BBQ Championship, Kinston’s Barbecue Festival on the Neuse, and of course, Washington’s Smoke on the Water (among others).

In addition to sampling great barbecue, he also enjoys the camaraderie that comes with judging, as well as the banter that takes place among cookers.  He’s looking forward to judging SOTW barbecue once again!

Gray Deans.

Gray Deans is a Washington resident and retired CPA and Chief Financial Officer that has been cooking whole hog since he was a teenager.  He has been a Certified Judge for the North Carolina Pork Council since June of 2017 and is currently the Treasurer of the Carolina Barbeque League.  He has judged whole hog cooking contests in many area towns including Kinston, Bath, Belhaven, Chocowinity and Washington.  He has led a discussion regarding the financial implications of cooking whole hog in competition to many competitors for the NC Pork Council events.

Brownie Futrell.

Brownie is a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper publisher who now has time to pursue his passion for barbecue. He’s been judging barbecue competitions for the past twenty years, and is certified by the North Carolina Pork Council, the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the Memphis Barbecue Network, and the Steak Cook-off Association.

While each organization is different in its approach, and each has its own endearing qualities that make it both unique and commendable, his heart remains with the Pork Council, where he serves as a member of its barbecue committee. He believes whole hog cooking is the best test of a chef’s overall cooking expertise, and he particularly enjoys on-site judging. He has judged competitions from New Hampshire to Mississippi and has judged the world championship in Memphis for the past fifteen years, always wearing his trademark flame shirt. He has written about barbecue for Williams-Sonoma and has been seen on the Discovery Network and films produced by the N.C. Pork Council.

Brownie is a trained volunteer with both the Salvation Army and Operation Barbecue Relief, and has prepared and served meals during and following natural disasters.

Justin Hembree.

Justin Hembree, a native of Mitchell County, NC, where his Scots-Irish roots trace back to the late 1700s.  Professionally, he has 19 years of experience in municipal, county, and regional government management.  He holds a BS and a MPA, both from Appalachian State University, and served as a Cavalry Scout in the US Army.  Justin currently serves as Executive Director of Mid-Carolina Regional Council is a multi-county economic and community development organization that serves the counties of Cumberland, Harnett, and Sampson in Southeastern NC. He previously served as Executive Director of Land of Sky Regional Council, County Manager of Mitchell County, NC, Assistant County Manager of Henderson County, NC, and Town Manager of Taylorsville, NC. Justin is active with the NC City and County Management Association, serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Development Organizations, is a Past Chair of the Western NC Managers Association, and served a term as President and currently serves as Treasurer of the Appalachian State University Local Government Alumni Association.

Justin occasionally competes on the professional barbeque circuit and is a member of Mac’s Smoke Shop and Fast Eddie’s Fine Swine.  Mac’s placed 2ndin the Whole Hog Category at the 2017 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.  He is a NC Pork Council Certified Judge and is one of the founders of the Carolina BBQ League.